Insulting Shetland

Eshaness, Shetland

I was amused by this story about an English newspaper insulting Shetland, calling it the most depressing place in Britain. After a flood of protests, the paper – published in that hive of cheer, Birmingham – printed an apology and promised to pay a visit to Scotland's most northerly county, to give a more balanced report.

Shetland was probably my favourite place to visit on my travels while working for UHI in Inverness. It's a beautiful group of islands – wide open skies, a barren beauty in the landscape, a rich cultural and archaeological heritage, friendly people, and a unique dialect inherited from the days when it was owned by Norway. Sure the long winter nights must get a bit much, but then midnight golf in the summer is the plus side – and the gulfstream ensures it's never as cold as you'd think.

Lerwick, the main town, is great – compact, bustling, gorgeous architecture (including grand Victorian buildings and a 18th century fort), and an excellent nightlife for its size. Buoyed no doubt by the oil money that has enriched Shetland with excellent public services, there's a confidence about Lerwick that you simply wouldn't get in any town elsewhere that was within easy reach of a big city.

I've also been to Birmingham for work: no contest.

From that article, I ended up surfing my way to a piece in the Shetland Times about a couple of guys walking from Elvis Voe in Shetland to Presley in Moray, visiting places with tenuous Elvis Presley connections on the way. It's good to know that there are other "stupid boy projects" to originate in the highlands and islands! These guys are doing it for charity, too, which is thoroughly commendable.

By contrast, all I can think of that Birmingham lends itself to music-wise is that recent hit by U2.

7 thoughts on “Insulting Shetland

  1. Oh the hilarity, disquiet and general affrontery! From a resident’s point of view twas great to read what the auspicious “Brummie Post” had to say about Shetland (More fun to actually hear what the missus had to say about it – she moved up to Shetland after living in Brum-land for most of her life….) more interest to find that one of the “experts” consulated actually helps to run the “counselling” course within the Shetland College!

    Apparently the Shetland Chapter of “Visit Scotland” has offered to host the reporter guilty of these slanderous accusations for a couple of weeks up here, and show him a good time. You’ve got to wonder, really, because he’s accepted the offer, will he ever make it back to the mainland, as I fear the “Royston Vasey” effect might occur…

  2. Hello Larry, thanks for visiting!

    Just as long as he doesn’t visit during Up Helly Aa, it could scare him off for life… and if he goes another time, one of the squads will no doubt immortalise him anyway!

  3. Actually, according to a study recently. Aberdeen is the most depressing place in the UK. No wonder so many of us have escaped since then! Having said that I’m going up there to visit next week.

  4. I LIVED THERE FOR 15 YEARS – NOW I’M BACK IN CIVILIZATION AGAIN, I CAN HONESTLY SAY SHETLAND IS THE MOST DEPRESSING PLACE TO STAY. SORRY, BUT THE TRUTH SOMETIMES HURTS THOSE SHETLANDERS.

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